Snail Games Previews: Black Gold, Music Soul, and Solar Tempest
Recently, I had a chance to sit down with Snail Games, creators of the hit Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) game Age of Wushu, to take a look at some of their upcoming games. Among these were three different titles, all of which stand out from the usual MMO crowd in their own ways. What makes them so unique? Well, read on and I’ll recap my time with Snail Games and the interesting games they are getting ready to be released!
First up is an upcoming MMO called Black Gold, a strictly PvP title to be released on PC. The game is set in a world where two factions battle for control of the titular substance Black Gold, with the Steam machinists on one side, and nature loving Mages on the other. The general theme here (as you can probably guess) is nature versus technology. Players battle for control of the continent’s central mountainous regions, where the main deposits of Black Gold are located.
Gameplay in Black Gold is somewhat similar to your average MMO, albeit a bit more manual than the typical key binding and tab targeting players are used to. What I mean is, in your average MMO (take World of Warcraft or Ragnarok Online for example), unless you’re using skills, your character pretty much auto-attacks for you. In Black Gold, you actually attack once per click, allowing you to manually string together combos as though you were playing a 3D fighting game. Furthermore, the game features a dodge mechanic, allowing you to dash or roll out of the way of incoming attacks. A block feature is also being considered for the final build, however, it wasn’t yet implemented in the version I was shown. What the attack and dodge system accomplishes currently, though, is a faster paced experience than other MMO titles you may have played, leading to a nice action-adventure style fighting game.
Aside from the two factions of Black Gold, there will be six different races to choose from, as well as 18 classes for each side. Examples of these are: Shapeshifters, Werewolves, Vampires, Tech Adepts, and Gunslingers – each possessing their own special abilities and statistics. Vehicles will also play a large part in the game, and not just as transportation. While piloting your machine (Steam side) or creature (Mage), gameplay will shift to a first person shooter, with players aiming several guns and canons freely at their targets. Thankfully, Black Gold does not feature a hard locking system, so gamers will have to aim their weapons by hand, which will add a certain amount of skill to pull off effectively. This includes adjusting for bullet travel time and projectile drop, which vary from vehicle to vehicle. Your crafts will also be customizable, with gamers able to attach extra weapons and armor on up to 17 different slots.
Black Gold is mainly set to be a PvP oriented game, setting gamers against each other, but the title is way much more than just another battle royale. As players win battles for their side, and take over the territories rich with Black Gold , they’re able to set up factories to mine the substance. These establishments need to be manned however, which falls to the players as another responsibility. Gamers will take on both floor worker and foreman positions, to ensure the company is running at peak efficiency. Now, working in a factory in an MMO definitely sounds like grinding, but the representative on hand assured me that there will be several incentives and perks to help run your faction’s economy, and while he wasn’t able to share many details, hopefully those benefits will prove to be substantial. After all, who wants to go to work inside the fantasy world where they go to escape from work?
Other notable features mentioned were flying fortresses and special contested areas, which the two factions will fight for control of, as well as room for 500 player-run guilds. Something else spectacular about the title is its art direction and diversity. As you could probably guess, the Steam faction has a Steampunk-styled theme, using a lot of clockwork and steam-powered devices, while sporting Victorian style fashions. One of the areas I visited under this side’s control was a decrepit city brought back to life through the faction’s various technologies. On the other hand, the Mages populate areas that remind me of games like Fable and Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. Here, nature is abundant and is even part of the architecture, with the locals preferring stone roads and greenery to technology and grandeur. The contrast between these two areas is substantial, and is sure to lead to a lot of exploration among players.
Unlike Snail Games’ other MMO, Age of Wushu, Black Gold will be subscription based. No set price has been released yet, but Snail is looking for a fourth quarter release in 2013.
I was also able to watch two trailers for upcoming games: Music Soul and Solar Tempest. While I wasn’t able to demo these titles, I got to talk quite a bit about them with the staff. Music Soul is described as a casual dance MMO, which is a genre you do not hear about every day. Players take control of an aspiring dance artist, with the aim to perform in all the biggest venues and become a dance sensation. Gameplay-wise, Music Soul will play sort of like DanceDanceRevolution, though with seven different input methods. Players will be able to freely customize their avatar’s appearance, and all the dances in-game have been choreographed (and motion-captured) by real-world dancers. This is one of the most notable MMOs I’ve seen in awhile, mostly due to the fact that it breaks the genre’s norm, and attempts to redefine dancing games. You won’t see many MMOs like this one, and its originality is a breath of fresh air for the genre – where action-adventure is a dime-a-dozen.
Last but not least, stepping away from the MMO model is Solar Tempest, an arcade-styled dungeon crawler. Players take control of a character from one of three classes: Ragesound Hammer, Shadow Blade, and Flashgunner, all of whom sport their own specializations. The Ragesound Hammer class is your typical all-brawn, no finesse melee brawler, equipped with (you guessed it) a massive sonic hammer. Changing pace is the shadow Blade, who is a stealthier, swift sword-swinger. Finally, we have the Flashgunner, a rifleman preferring to keep his distance and use technology to take out his targets. Each class possesses their own close-quarters and ranged attacks, as well as the ability to summon different walls, such as the Flashgunner’s electric fence. These barriers can be used to keep hordes of enemies in check, but they can also add extra power and effects to your projectile attacks if they pass through them. Up to four players can join into a game online, and all four can even be the same class if they desire. If you’re looking for more of a solo experience, the title will also feature a single-player offline campaign, letting you go it alone should you choose to.
From the massive PvP battles of Black Gold, to the crazy moves and styles of Music Soul, and the epic dungeon adventures of Solar Tempest, Snail games has a lot of solid content coming down the pipe. Whether you’re an MMO fan who is tired of the same old cookie-cutter experiences you find everywhere, or a first timer looking for a memorable experience, these are three titles to keep your eye on in the coming months. Black Gold will be available sometime Q4 2013 with a subscription, while Music Soul and Solar Tempest have yet to receive release dates. That being said, it’s looking like Snail Games has another set of hits on their hands, so keep your eyes peeled for more information and reviews as these games are released!
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